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Reminiscences of Tolstoy


By His Son Count Ilya Tolstoy (1866-1933)

Translated by English author, journalist, and playwright George Leslie Calderon (1868-1915)

The son of Tolstoy, Ilya Tolstoy, was born at Yasnaya Polyana and spent most of his young life there, until the family took a house in Moscow in 1881. He received his early education at home; his mother taught him to read and write, first in Russian, and later in French and English, and his father taught him mathematics, and later Greek and Latin. He and his siblings were also schooled by private tutors. His father Leo Tolstoy, in an 1872 letter to his father's cousin Alexandra Andreyevna Tolstaya, described his children; he said the following of his son Ilya: "Ilya, the third, has never been ill in his life; broad-boned, white and pink, radiant, bad at lessons. Is always thinking about what he is told not to think about. Invents his own games. Hot-tempered and violent, wants to fight at once; but is also tender-hearted and very sensitive. Sensuous; fond of eating and lying still doing nothing. When he eats currant-jelly and buck-wheat kasha his lips itch. Independent-minded in everything. When he cries, is vicious and horrid at the same time; when he laughs every one laughs too. Everything forbidden delights him; he recognizes it at once." Count Ilya Tolstoy is best known for his book of memoirs about his father Reminiscences of Tolstoy. He also wrote the short novel The Corpse in 1890 (published posthumously), and the story "One Bastard Less", published in 1905 in the journal Russian Thought.

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